1

Can someone please explain to me the difference between meaning and usage of words drudgery and travail in nuance?

Context: I am writing an email to a mental health worker and I want to emphasize how hard, exhausting, and perhaps even ungrateful her work appears to me.

Brief internet search did not help me much because both Merriam-Webbster and Oxford American Writer's Thesaurus simply list them as synonyms.

  • Before you get to the bottom it gives definitions and while similar, they’re different. – Jim Jan 25 '17 at 4:39
  • 1
    Drudgery is cleaning the toilet. Travail is using buckets to empty the cesspool. – Hot Licks Jan 25 '17 at 4:39
  • @HotLicks So.. would either of them be appropriate to use in the email in my context then? – Vlad Jan 25 '17 at 4:43
  • That's for you to decide. – Hot Licks Jan 25 '17 at 13:10
1

Travail is more physical in that you may experience pain doing something that causes travail. Drudgery on the other hand is something that's just extremely boring. For example, reading a highly technical book can be a mental drudgery, but it's not travail because doing that does not cause you physical pain. Menial work that involves a lot of physical effort, however, is an example of travail.

Example #1:

Gosh, this book is such a drudgery! I just can't keep reading it anymore.

Example #2:

Factory workers in third-world countries are vastly underpaid while their hard work is nothing short of pure travail.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.